The Baldwin Brothers

Cooking with Lasers

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On their debut album, Cooking With Lasers, the Baldwin Brothers attempt to mix pop, soul, jazz, lounge, and electronica into a cohesive -- and danceable -- whole. For the most part, they succeed, particularly when they bring in some of their more famous friends to liven up the proceedings. The sexy, jazzy "Dream Girl," which was co-written by the Pulsars' Dave Trumfio and features Miho Hatori's sensual yet naïve vocals, is a knockout single, as is "Deep Down," a summery, airy love song that uses the voice of Frente!'s Angie Hart even better than her main project does. Nearly all of Cooking With Lasers' vocal tracks have more focus and freshness than the instrumentals, which more often than not take a few listens to sink in -- songs like "A Word From Our Sponsor" and "Slowly at First" are so subtle that they're dangerously close to sliding away into an atmospheric wasteland. Similarly, sample-friendly tracks like "That's Right" and "Funky Junkyard," while entertaining, recall the work of Money Mark, Towa Tei, and Beck a little too often. However, on the pulsating free for all "The Bionic Jam" and turntable workout "Viva Kneivel," the Baldwin Brothers begin to reveal their own brand of funky electronica. The strength of songs like "Dream Girl" and "Deep Down" almost puts the rest of the album to shame, suggesting that the Baldwin Brothers might have more to say as an electronic pop band; either way, Cooking With Lasers is a promising debut that grows with each listen.

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